Rugby: Marcus Smith drop goal spoils James Lowe double as England upset Ireland in Six Nations

England have defeated Ireland 23-22 in the Six Nations, after an 80th-minute Marcus Smith drop goal saw the hosts stage a dramatic upset in front of a soldout Twickenham crowd.    

Former Chiefs winger, turned Ireland international James Lowe looked to have won the game for his side, when he scored his second try of the match with eight minutes remaining, but England's reserve first-five, Marcus Smith, was able to slot game-winning drop goal as time expired to hand England the one-point win.   

The loss denies Ireland a chance at back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams, while England have given themselves a chance to claim the title heading into the final round.    

James Lowe scores his sides first try.
James Lowe scores his sides first try. Photo credit: Getty Images

The men in green seemed well in control, as they surged 17-8 ahead early in the second half, thanks to a try from Lowe and four Jack Crowley penalties.  

However, England quickly roared back, as both George Furbank and Ben Earl crossed for five-pointers to edge three points clear heading into the final quarter of play.   

Lowe's second try put Ireland back ahead, but a missed conversion gave England the opportunity to win with a penalty or a drop goal.   

After winning a lineout with two minutes remaining, England stormed up the field, earning penalty advantages, as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark. Standing just 10 metres from the posts, Smith lined up in the pocket and slotted the winning drop kick, slipping over as he did. 

The kick sent Twickenham into a frenzy, as Smith and his teammates celebrated the win.    

"To watch it from the back and get the forwards round the corner getting us momentum, I have been practicing my drop goals and I thought why not," he said. 

Meanwhile, Italy won a home Six Nations match for the first time in 11 years, after they overcame Scotland 31-29 at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.   

Italy were down 22-10 after the first 35 minutes, but were able to stage an unlikely comeback, scoring the next 21 points to take back the lead with 20 minutes remaining.    

The 69,689 home fans had a nervous wait, as Scotland went after the win late, but after 28 phases, Sam Skinner knocked on, as Italy finally secured their first home win since 2013.   

The results leave Ireland ahead on 16 points, with England now just four points behind. Scotland, who visit Ireland next week, have 11.